Delaware City Council approved an ordinance during Monday’s meeting that will give residents the opportunity to vote on an opt-out electric service aggregation program on the Nov. 8 general election ballot.
The ordinance was approved with five favorable votes by council; Councilman Drew Ferrell was the lone vote against the ordinance, and Vice Mayor Kent Shafer was not present at the meeting.
The city had until 4 p.m. Wednesday to submit the ballot language to the Delaware County Board of Elections for inclusion on the upcoming ballot, which necessitated an aggressive timeline that included last week’s special council meeting and a third reading and final decision during Monday’s meeting.
Prior to the vote, a lengthy discussion was held by council members regarding the language of the ballot measure. During the special meeting last week, council voted to amend the ballot language to include wording involving the support of renewable energy. The amendment discussions came as a result of a push from Sustainable Delaware for the city to commit to 100% renewable energy as part of any future aggregation program.
However, council members were hesitant to approve language that would force them to only pursue renewable energy in the future when the primary goal of the program would be to save residents money. Ultimately, council decided to include only the mention of supporting renewable energy last week, leaving them the flexibility to pursue other options if deemed more cost-effective.
The amended ballot language was again discussed on Monday, with some council members still questioning whether or not including the mention of renewable energy in the wording would tie council to only aggregating with some level of renewable energy, regardless of the price.
Council voted to amend the amended language to return the wording back to its original form, which now officially states, “Shall the City of Delaware have the authority to aggregate the retail electric loads located in the City of Delaware and, for that purpose, enter into service agreements to facilitate for those loads the sale and purchase of electricity, such aggregation to occur automatically except where any person elects to opt out?”
Once the ballot language was voted on, the discussion among the council turned to the wording of the ordinance itself. Ferrell expressed his wish to include the city’s general goal of supporting renewable energy in the ordinance language to show a commitment to pursuing renewable energy in the future.
Councilman Cory Hoffman suggested adding a fifth “whereas clause” to the ordinance that highlighted the city’s goals of a potential aggregation program. The clause included promoting “free and easy opt-out procedures, renewable electricity generation, and net metering.”
The amended ordinance was approved by council, but the vote to enact the necessary emergency clause failed to receive the five votes required and was dismissed.
Without the emergency clause, the city would have been unable to meet the deadline to submit the language to the county Board of Elections. However, Councilwoman Lisa Keller said following the vote that the entire ballot measure doesn’t need to die simply because the ordinance wasn’t amended. She argued the original goal of the city with any aggregation program is to save residents money, which can still be achieved by approving the ordinance as it was originally written.
The ordinance was returned to its original form and was ultimately approved by five of the six council members.